Transported by Food: A Brief Culinary Journey in Andalucía

This is another delicious guest post from Maya Hanley. She has recently returned from a tumultuous Spanish journey. See how she made it through with the help the local cuisine. Our Christmas was off to an icy start with unexpected arctic weather and closed airports. Needless to say we were delayed in our arrival at Albuñuelas, only to find that the house we had rented was cold, damp and unliveable. Despite the late start (and later, my sister's broken foot which ended the trip prematurely) we are very grateful for the new friendship we forged with the wonderful couple who rescued us, put us up and fed us. David Crockett and his lovely wife Lorna own a B&B, a beautifully converted house in the middle of the village of Albuñuelas (phone: +34 6 3604 3596). David is an avid cook and thrilled us with his culinary delights, like paella with pork and spinach and Moroccan fish tajine. Oh, and lots of local wines! The next day, we headed into Granada and searched out a place that looked appetising. Eventually, on the main street off Plaza Nueva, we found SECO, a restaurant featuring mainly seafood. It was lunch time so the place was crowded. One thing I have noticed in Spain is that most people eat lunch out, usually very quickly and efficiently. A lot of them will stand at a counter, have a beer and some tapas and head back to work. We ordered grilled asparagus with garlic and olive oil, grilled oyster mushrooms with a similar sauce, hearts of lettuce salad with a roasted garlic dressing that was red with paprika and utterly divine, baby red mullets deep fried whole in light batter and large, shelled tiger prawns, also deep fried in a light batter. Our table was groaning under all the plates and I think the waiter thought our eyes were definitely bigger than our bellies. But he didn’t know us and our capacity to swoon over perfectly crisp asparagus dripping in local olive oil or our penchant for trying to figure out exactly what was in a dish. It wasn’t cheap (€52 for two of us with wine) but we ate the lot and would highly recommend it. The following day, up in the high Alpujarras at a temperature of about 5C, we came across a roadside inn, Bodega Guillermo, just outside of Pampaneira, again right at lunch time. This time, it was filled with Spanish hikers and they all looked hungry. We ordered from the menu, not really knowing what we were getting and we were not disappointed. One of the best things I have eaten in ages was a soup, more like a stew, called Potaje a la Gitanilla. It was made with pork bones cooked to the point where the soup turned to jelly as soon as it cooled. The main soup base was then added to with chickpeas, pork offal and chorizo. The offal part might not be to everyone’s taste but the flavour was so robust you could feel it sticking to your ribs as you ate. With it we had a tomato and garlic salad, heavy on the garlic, crusty bread and delicious coffee - well worth the €25 for the two of us, including a glass of wine and a liqueur to warm us. For those hours we spent exploring the cafes and restaurants of Andalucía, we forgot all about our trials and tribulations. That’s the beauty of food – it transports you to another place; in our case, a place we will never forget. Craving more? Be sure to read about Maya's "Swedish delights", check out her blog, and stay tuned for more tasty thoughts from this epicurean Tripper.